Jeremiah 5:7
How shall I pardon you for this? your children have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) When I had fed them to the full.—The reading of the Hebrew text gives, though I had bound them by oath, sc., by the covenant, as of marriage; and this, as heightening the enormity of the sin that follows, gives a better sense than the English version, which follows the marginal reading of the Hebrew. The latter finds its parallel in Deuteronomy 32:15; Hosea 13:6. There is probably an implied reference to the covenant to which the people had sworn in the time of Josiah.

Houses.—Literally, house. The singular is, perhaps, used because the prophet thinks primarily of the idol’s temple as the scene of the adulteress’s guilt, which here, as elsewhere, is the symbol of national apostasy.

Jeremiah 5:7-9. How shall I pardon thee for this? — How canst thou expect that the holy God, the righteous Governor and Judge of the world, should connive at, or bear with, such iniquitous conduct in his intelligent and accountable creatures. He appeals to themselves, whether they can think it consistent with his justice to let such enormous offences as he mentions go unpunished. Thy children — Thy people, both in city and country; have forsaken me — Have apostatized from my worship and service; and have sworn by them that are no gods — Have made their appeals to them, as if they were omniscient and their proper judges. This is here put for all acts of religious worship which are due to God only, but with which they honoured their idols, thereby robbing God of his essential attributes, and ascribing them to creatures of their own fancy. When I fed them to the full — Gave them temporal blessings in abundance; then they committed adultery — Such is the natural effect of unsanctified prosperity. Shall I not visit for these things? — Do not such crimes as these call for some remarkable judgments as their chastisement? Can you yourselves suppose that Jehovah, whose name is Holy and Jealous, will let them go unpunished? Shall not my soul be avenged? &c. — God’s anger and vengeance signify, in Scripture, the execution of his justice, the effects of which are as terrible against obstinate sinners as if they proceeded from the highest resentment. 5:1-9 None could be found who behaved as upright and godly men. But the Lord saw the true character of the people through all their disguises. The poor were ignorant, and therefore they were wicked. What can be expected but works of darkness, from people that know nothing of God and religion? There are God's poor, who, notwithstanding poverty, know the way of the Lord, walk in it, and do their duty; but these were willingly ignorant, and their ignorance would not be their excuse. The rich were insolent and haughty, and the abuse of God's favours made their sin worse.Rather, Why, "for what reason" should "I pardon thee?"

When ... - Or, "though I bound them to me by oath, yet they committed adultery."

The harlots' houses - The harlot's house, i. e., the temple of an idol; the prophet had also in view (see Jeremiah 5:8) the unchastity which accompanied most forms of nature-worship.

7. It would not be consistent with God's holiness to let such wickedness pass unpunished.

sworn by—(Jer 5:2; Jer 4:2); that is, worshipped.

no gods—(De 32:21).

fed … to the full—so the Keri (Hebrew Margin) reads. God's bountifulness is contrasted with their apostasy (De 32:15). Prosperity, the gift of God, designed to lead men to Him, often produces the opposite effect. The Hebrew Chetib (text) reads: "I bound them (to Me) by oath," namely, in the marriage covenant, sealed at Sinai between God and Israel; in contrast to which stands their "adultery"; the antithesis favors this.

adultery … harlots' houses—spiritually: idolatry in temples of idols; but literal prostitution is also included, being frequently part of idol-worship: for example, in the worship of the Babylonian Mylitta.

How shall I pardon? how canst thou expect that I shall bear such affronts? I shall expose myself, and seem to lay aside my power; I shall be looked upon as one that either regard not such injuries, or cannot avenge them, as Jeremiah 5:9.

Thy children; thy inhabitants, both in city and country.

Sworn by them that are no gods, but by idols: swearing is here put, not for one part of worship, as sometimes it is, but for a religious worship and service of them, Jeremiah 4:2.

When I had fed them to the full, they then committed adultery: here is noted the abuse of God’s bounty, or the natural effect of our unsanctified prosperity, Deu 32:15 Jeremiah 2:7 Jude 4. That which in good men doth oft breed forgetfulness, in bad men generally breeds filthiness: rising up to play the wanton was the effect of Israel’s eating and drinking, Exodus 32:6, and of Sodom’s sin, Ezekiel 16:49. Adultery; either,

1. Metaphorically to be understood of their going a whoring after their idols; or,

2. Properly, for corporal uncleanness, they usually going both together, Numbers 25:1,2 Ho 4:12,14.

Assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses; it may be read in the nominative case, the house of the harlot assembled themselves: q.d. The whole house of Israel, Jerusalem and Judea, are but one stew. If it refers to their idolatry, then it alludes to their making the temple a common house of spiritual harlotry; but rather, as it refers to their corporal uncleanness, it seems to intimate that they did not act their adulteries clandestinely or by stealth, but laying aside all modesty, they went to harlots’ houses, like brute beasts, in company, as ashamed of nothing. How shall I pardon thee for this?.... Because of their manifold transgressions, and multiplied backslidings; or "wherefore, or for what, shall I pardon thee?" (r) as the Targum; can any reason be given why I should? what goodness is there in thee, or done by thee, that I should do this unto thee? The particle according to Kimchi, is a word of exclamation; and, according to Jarchi, of admiration; and may be rendered, "oh! for this shall I pardon?" how can it be? R. Menachem; in Jarchi, takes it to be the same with "not"; and to be rendered, not for this will I pardon; and so is an affirmation, and fixed resolution not to pardon, and that for the following reasons:

thy children have forsaken me; my worship, as the Targum interprets it; that is, the children of Jerusalem, the inhabitants of it, the common people, as distinguished from their fathers, the civil and ecclesiastical rulers; see Matthew 23:37, though not to the exclusion of them; for they were guilty of the same sin in forsaking the word, worship, and ordinances of God:

and sworn by them that are no gods; by the name of idols, as the Targum; or, "by those things which are not god", as Noldius (s) renders the words; who rightly observes, that there were other things besides idols that they swore by, as the heaven and earth, temple, altar, &c. with which the Arabic version agrees; when an oath ought only to be taken in the name of the living God; or, "swore without God"; without making mention of the name of the true God:

when I had fed them to the full; with the good things of life; gave them all things richly to enjoy; the best provisions, and fulness of them; so that they had all that heart could wish for. There is in the Hebrew text a beautiful play on words (t), between the word used for swearing in the former clause, and this for feeding here:

they then committed adultery; either idolatry, which is spiritual adultery; or adultery literally taken; as it seems from the following verse. This is the consequence of their being fullly fed; and that is an aggravation of this their sin against God and their neighbour; see Deuteronomy 32:13,

and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses; either in the temples of idols, or in the stews or brothel houses, where harlots prostituted themselves; their going thither in troops, or in great numbers, shows both how universal and how public this sin was, and how impudent and barefaced they were in the commission of it.

(r) "ad quid, vel ob quid, vel quare parcam tibi?" De Dieu. (s) Ebr. Concord. Part. p. 199. No. 911. (t) "et juraverunt", "cum saturarem".

How shall I pardon thee for this? thy children have forsaken me, and {g} sworn by them that are no gods: when I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery, and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots' houses.

(g) He shows that to swear by anything other than by God is to forsake him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. If the MT. be right, the transition to Jehovah’s words is an abrupt one. Du., however, considers that an abbreviation of the common formula “Thus saith Jehovah” was misunderstood and so brought about a corruption of the text. He would accordingly restore thus: How can I pardon them, saith the Lord; they have, etc.

I had fed them to the full] not as mg. made them swear, meaning, had bound them to me by oath. They had made use of their prosperity only as facilitating and inciting to sin. Cp. Deuteronomy 32:15.

The last part of the verse may be understood to include the sense of faithlessness to their Divine Spouse, but Jeremiah 5:8 seems clearly to indicate a reference to the impure rites which accompanied idolatry.

assembled themselves in troops] The verb in MT. suggests bands of marauders (cp. e.g. 2 Kings 5:2). As this is an unsuitable sense here, it is better (with LXX) to read by a slight alteration in the Hebrew (where d and r are very similar letters), made themselves sojourners (yithgorâru for yithgodâdu).Verse 7. - How... for this? rather, Why should I pardon thee? Thy children; i.e. (since "the daughter of Zion" is equivalent to Zion regarded as an ideal entity) the members of the Jewish people (comp. Leviticus 19:18, "the children of thy people"). When I had fed them to the full. So Ewald, following the versions and many manuscripts (there is no marginal reading in the Hebrew Bible). This gives a good sense, and may be supported by ver. 28; Deuteronomy 32:15; Hosea 13:6. But the reading of the received Hebrew text, though somewhat more difficult, is yet perfectly capable of explanation; and, slight as the difference is in the reading adopted by Ewald (it involves a mere shade of pronunciation), it is not to be preferred to the received reading. Read, therefore, though -r made them to swear (allegiance),!let they committed adultery. The oath may be that of Sinai (Exodus 24.), or such au oath as had been recently taken by Josiah and the people (1 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:31, 32). The "adultery" may be taken both in a literal and in a figurative sense, and so also the "harlots' houses" in the next clause. It is also well worthy of consideration whether the prophet may not be referring to certain matrimonial customs handed down from remote antiquity and arising from the ancient system of kinship through women (comp. Ezekiel 22:11). By reason of the universal godlessness and moral corruption the Lord cannot pardon. - Jeremiah 5:1. "Range through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek upon her thoroughfares, if ye find any, if any doth judgment, seeketh after faithfulness, and I will pardon her. Jeremiah 5:2. And if they say, 'As Jahveh liveth,' then in this they swear falsely. Jeremiah 5:3. Jahveh, are not Thine yes upon faithfulness? Thou smitest them, an they are not pained; thou consumest them, they will take no correction; they make their face harder than rock, they will not turn. Jeremiah 5:4. And I thought, It is but the baser sort, they are foolish; for they know not the way of Jahveh, the judgment of their God. Jeremiah 5:5. I will get me then to the great, and will speak with them, for they know the way of Jahveh, the judgment of their God; yet together have they broken the yoke, burst the bonds. Jeremiah 5:6. Therefore a lion out of the wood smiteth them, a wolf of the deserts spoileth them, a leopard lieth in wait against their cities: every one that goeth out thence is torn in pieces; because many are their transgressions, many their backslidings. Jeremiah 5:7. Wherefore should I pardon thee? thy sons have forsaken me, and sworn by them that are no gods. I caused them to sear, but they committed adultery, and crowd into the house of the harlot. Jeremiah 5:8. Like well-fed horses, they are roaming about; each neigheth after the other's wife. Jeremiah 5:9. Shall I not punish this? saith Jahveh; or shall not my soul be avenged on such a people as this?"

The thought of Jeremiah 5:1, that in Jerusalem there is not to be found one solitary soul who concerns himself about uprightness and sincerity, does not, though rhetorically expressed, contain any rhetorical hyperbole or exaggeration such as may have arisen from the prophet's righteous indignation, or have been inferred from the severity of the expected judgment (Hitz.); it gives but the simple truth, as is seen when we consider that it is not Jeremiah who speaks according to the best of his judgment, but God, the searcher of hearts. Before the all-seeing eye of God no man is pure and good. They are all gone astray, and there is none that doeth good, Psalm 14:2-3. And if anywhere the fear of God is the ruling principle, yet when the look falls on the mighty hosts of the wicked, even the human eye loses sight of the small company of the godly, since they are in no case to exert an influence on the moral standing of the whole mass. "If ye find any" is defined by, "if there is a worker of right;" and the doing of right or judgment is made more complete by "that seeketh faithfulness," the doing of right or judgment is made more complete by "that seeketh faithfulness," the doing being given as the outcome of the disposition. אמוּנה is not truth (אמת), but sincerity and good faith. On this state of affairs, cf. Hosea 4:1; Micah 7:2; Isaiah 64:5. The pledge that God would pardon Jerusalem if He found but one righteous man in it, recalls Abraham's dealing with God on behalf of Sodom, Genesis 18:23. In support of what has been said, it is added in Jeremiah 5:2, that they even abuse God's name for lying purposes; cf. Leviticus 19:12. Making oath by the life of Jahveh is not looked on here as a confession of faith in the Lord, giving thus as the sense, that even their worship of God was but the work of the lips, not of the heart (Ros.); but the solemn appeal to the living God for the purpose of setting the impress of truth on the face of a life, is brought forward as evidence that there is none that strives after sincerity. the antithesis forced in here by Hitz. and Graf is foreign to text and context both, viz., that between swearing by Jahveh and by the false gods, or any other indifferent name. The emphasis lies on swearing לשׁקר, as opposed to swearing in the way demanded by God, בּאמת וּבמשׁפּט וּבצדקה, Jeremiah 4:2. לכן, therein, i.e., yet even in this, or nevertheless.

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